Raspberries, Fresh Honey, Sweet Roses, Shop with Executive Chef from Flights at the Renaissance Hotel
I realized the other day just how much my habits are changing since I made the move over to Park and Market, and how many new adventures have come my way. Can you guess where I’ve been shopping on Saturday mornings from my two lists above? Bacon and eggs might sound like the 2-story Harris Teeter grocery just an elevator ride away, but I love to buy them at the Midtown Farmers’ Market where you can talk with dozens of farmers about what they’re growing or raising, and where there is always something happening on the Commons.
One of the regulars at the market is Dean Wendel, Executive Chef of Flights at the Renaissance Hotel. Watching him crisp in his black linen uniform on a warm morning, exchanging the best of the best food secrets with the market vendors, I found myself shadowing him, and to my delight was invited to “ride along”. Some of our stops along the way…
Piedmont Biofarm where we played Stump the Chef, with Lamb’s Quarter (fix it like spinach) and a taste test (tear off a leaf and chew), then a purchase for some lucky lunchtime guests back at the hotel.
Cohen Farm where Esta Cohen and Chef clucked over a carton of eggs, not just any eggs, but Gussies, the slightly smaller eggs that come from Pullet hens and are named for Esta’s mother. These were a “treat” purchase to round out Chef’s standing weekly order for 6 dozen eggs that he has delivered to his kitchen. I found myself wondering how far you’d have to look to find another hotel restaurant serving eggs on a Saturday morning that you could walk a few steps outside the hotel and talk to the farmer who produced them!
Edible Earthscapes where Chef indulged his passion for Rainbow Chard after Jason Oatis assured him he had plenty on hand and offered to sell at restaurant pricing.
Double T Farm where Tom Kumpf showed off his red leaf lettuce, grown to take the heat (talk about testing that lately) but it was the baby Bibb heads that spoke to Chef and he gently picked several to adorn sandwiches for his lunch crowd.
Would I like to come back to the kitchen with him? Are you kidding? I was in Seventh Heaven as I walked into that busy enterprise mid-morning with what seemed like every table at Flights taken and catering underway for hundreds to come later in the day. I stood listening as they discussed the spread of market bounty across their work table, where and how it would be used that day, thinking Farm to Table doesn’t get any fresher than this.
But I also understood that what Chef is out there doing every week is about more than shopping to feed his guests, it’s about community, and that seems to be what Park and Market is bringing to life for me.